Saturday, August 17, 2013

Following up: On Working Two at Once

Following up on my previous post, answering a reader question about working my Basic Ribbed Sock two at a time on two circulars... Part one of the discussion is here.

As with working on two circulars, I've also written on the topic of working two socks at the same time, in the Summer 2013 issue of Sockupied.

Here's a quick summary of the process: The two socks sit side-by-side on two circular needles.

(My usual stellar photography...)

And you work as follows: across the first half of the first sock (green in the photo), across the first half of the second sock (white in the photo), across the second half of the second sock (white in the photo), across the second half of the first sock (green in the photo).

As labelled:

So once you're cast on, it's simple! No pattern mods required. Just keep track of which side you're on. I tend to use removeable stitch markers or safety pins to keep track of which sock is which - a green marker on the first sock, an orange marker on the second.

(As for casting on, I usually cast them on separately and slip them to two needles in the setup above. 

Turning the heel is easy: work them one at a time! Really! 

I do know knitters who separate the socks for turning the heel and picking up the gusset stitches.  That can make it easier to visualize and set up.

The only tricky bit is the gusset pick up: it has to be done in two steps. With the first needle, finish the heel on the first sock, and pick up the sts on the first side of the heel. Then turn the heel on the second sock, and with that same needle pick up the heel on the first side of the second sock. Then with the second needle, work across the instep of the second sock, then the first.  Then back to the first needle, and pick up the second half of the gusset on the first sock, work across the rest of the sole. And lastly, with that same needle, pick up the second half of the gusset on the second sock, and work across the rest of the sock.

It seems odd at first, but if you think through it, it's actually pretty logical. It's exactly how you do it for a single sock: first side of gusset pickup, work across instep sts, then second side of gusset sts. It's all about keeping the sole stitches grouped together on one needle, and the instep sts grouped together on the other.

And then once that's done, it's easy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Reader Mail; On questions in comments; converting a sock pattern to Two Circulars Two-at-a-Time

A bit of housekeeping: I've had a few comments with questions of late. I can't always email you back - depending on how you logged in to leave the comment.

In particular, two very good questions:

On my post about avoiding holes in top-down sock gussets - I've been asked if there's a video. YES!  I did a quick video for Interweave - you can download it here.

And on the February Lady Sock, a reader is seeking some help. I always love helping out sock knitters, and you can always email me at kate at wisehildaknits dot com with specific questions. You can also email me through the Contact form at my website If you've not knit a sock before, I highly recommend starting with my top-down training sock pattern.  If you've got a specific question, let me know!

And then a reader has left a comment asking about converting my Basic Ribbed Sock to two-at-a-time, on two circulars. I'm going to tackle that question in two steps: first, on working a sock on two circulars.

With the exception of the aforementioned Training sock pattern (and its toe-up counterpart), I write all my sock patterns to be needle-agnostic. That is, the instructions are written so that you can use DPNs, magic loop or two circular needles - or even those teeny-tiny little 8 or 9 inch long cicular needles. I've written on this before, so please excuse any possible repetition. Ultimately, the needles you use for working small circumference pieces like socks is entirely a personal choice. There's actually no difference in the process, no matter which needles you're using.

The analogy is give is that it's like writing - I don't mind which hand you hold your pen in, and how your wrap your fingers around it - the result is still the same.

Now, writing patterns this way does assume some knowledge on the pattern of the knitter... that the knitter has a sense of how to distribute the stitches across the needle configuration of choice for ease of working, but since socks generally aren't a beginner's project, I feel that's a safe assumption. I've written on this in detail, in KnitEdge magazine - issue two.

That having been said, the original Basic Ribbed Sock pattern was written many years ago, and I believe it did refer specifically to DPNs - I think that's all I knew at the time. I've since revised and updated it - with multiple sizes, and with non-needle-specific instructions. You can get that newer version on Ravelry here.

As to working two at a time... Well, it's an interesting question. If I was feeling glib, I'd say that once you've worked a few pairs that way, then it becomes obvious. But that's not entirely fair...   I'll finish this in a second post in the next day or two - stay tuned!